It’s been a while since I’ve read comics properly. Real-life got in the way (real-life leaning towards a brain tumour and multiple surgeries and chemotherapy and radiotherapy.) I just didn’t have the time for fantasy and drama and fiction any longer.
That broke my heart. The X-Men were and are a powerful metaphor for life for many reasons.
So when Uncanny X-Men #600 came out, I hoped onto Comixology, I bought it, I read it…and I got confused. Not just because I had no idea what was going on, but also because there was nothing that I recognised in this story, nothing that had once made me fall in love the the mutants and their stories and their battles.
Sure, the X-Men were getting a bit stale: I appreciate the need to keep them alive and keep giving them challenges. Trust me, I really get that.
But the X-Men are the underdogs, they are the brow-beaten, hated community that nobody likes and nobody cares for. And it appears that they’ve been broken down so much that the world doesn’t recognise them any longer.
Or certainly I don’t.
There’s a subtext to the X-Men, and I don’t think I’m part of that subtext any more. Apparently everyone (and I mean everyone) hates Beast now? Okay, I can get that, but since I’ve been away from these comics for my own reasons, I just see him being ganged up against by a bunch of characters who are saying words that are just reflective of the shitty things that they do and have done themselves.
But I think my biggest issue with this book was actually Iceman and the laisez-faire way in which he’s turned gay, past and present. See, the bit that gets to me about this is complicated: because as a gay man, nobody should ever “force” you to come out. But there’s nothing wrong with coming out. It’s a complicated moment that I’ve tried to write about, and that I don’t think people understand unless they’ve gone through it (even in my attempts to write about one story of “coming out” I’ve had comments from people who didn’t like the story I was telling. Possibly because they didn’t get that the pressure and stress in that coming out story was coming from a horrible, horrible person.)
So in this story, Jean Grey is a horrible, horrible person who drags not just one man out of the closet, but two (or the same man twice.) And the fucking bitch has the audacity to turn down a hug from one of her oldest friends (perhaps) after she does so. Because apparently both versions of Iceman currently living in the Marvel universe are gay and that story is oh-so-easy to tell.
The X-Men are meant to stand for the Other, they are meant to stand for truth and honesty and facing up to the difficult stuff you’ve got to do in your life. Because the X-Men are meant to be able to be a team, not ganging up on each other and being horrible and doing their own things.
Yeah, I’ve been out of this game too long. And there’s nothing in this to bring me back.
Best of look being the most loathed group in the Marvel Universe, X-Men. Because you’ve lost the magic that had everyone fighting in your corner.